Neon Leon, or Leon Matthews is one of the forgotten heroes of NYC punk. Last month Hozac attempted to correct that mistake by releasing the 1979​-​84 Singles Collection. It includes the scorching debut single “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Alive”, originally released in 1979 on the tiny Big Deal Records. The track was written by bassist Honi O’Rourke and Neon Leon, managing to distil the Max’s Kansas City era in under three minutes.

Matthews actually started playing music in the late 60s. This is clipped from the Hozac liner notes: “Along with being roommates with Rolling Stones’ guitarist Mick Taylor (and dating his wife!) while living in the UK in the early 70s, he was recording acetates as far back as the mid 1970s with the original members of Pure Hell around Philadelphia, and ended up moving into the Chelsea Hotel in ’73 soon after, upon the insistence of his pal Johnny Thunders.”

In 1977 he starred in the exploitation film Punk Rock and Mick Jagger helped fund the release of his only album Artificial Stimulation, that strangely only came out in Sweden on the independent label Tandan in 1983. The tracks collected on the digital compilation from Hozac capture a wild musician straddling punk, glam and 70s rock. Jagger even appears on his recording of “Heart of Stone” from 1982.

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